Norfolk

Norfolk children's services commissioner appointed

County Hall, home of Norfolk County Council, Norwich
Image caption Children's services at Norfolk County Council were rated as 'inadequate' by Ofsted after an inspection in 2013

Norfolk's failing children's services will be overseen by a commissioner under new government measures.

David Hill, from Essex County Council, has been appointed in the role, and will report to the education secretary every three months.

If it does not improve within a year, the entire department will be taken over by another authority or trust.

Director Michael Rosen agreed the situation was "embarrassing" but performance had been improving.

'Lost' children

The department was rated inadequate in 2013 and "widespread weaknesses" were found earlier this year.

In its last inspection, Ofsted said leadership, management and governance still needed improving and the pace of change was too slow.

A report in October said the council had lost contact with 190 children who had been in care, 26 of whom were aged 16 and 17 and could still be at risk.

It also found 16 out of 1,052 "in care" children did not even have their own allocated social worker.

Just seven out of 35 children who could be reunited with their parents had been returned home.

In once case, it took four months to hold a meeting about a five-year-old in care.

Who is David Hill?

  • Originally trained as a social worker, has worked in local authorities since 1977
  • Joined Essex County Council as executive director for schools, children and families in 2010
  • Holds statutory roles of director of children's services and director of adult social services
  • Responsible for a budget of £544m and more than 3,500 staff
  • Accountable for safeguarding for both vulnerable adults and children in Essex

Source: Essex County Council

Mr Rosen said "children were being let down right across the system in 2013".

"The inspection we have just had shown that we have made a lot of improvement, in terms of health and protection, and we now have an effective system of school support.

"What remains to be improved is the service for looked-after children.

"It's great that the government wishes to put this extra pressure on us and I think staff will react in exactly the right way, which is 'come on, let's get the job finished'."

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